As of December 2019, BLS will re-enter the market for long-distance passenger services in Switzerland. That month, BLS become responsible for two long-distance lines: Bern – Biel and Bern – Burgdorf – Olten. For these contracts, eight extra KISS double decker EMUs will be ordered from Stadler Rail.
It is remarkable but possible; BLS and Stadler Rail have a frame contract, closed in 2010, under which it is still possible to order extra KISS trains. Between 2012 and 2014, 28 such trains were delivered as type RABe 515. Three more were ordered in 2016. BLS operates the 4-car units in S-Bahn lines connected to the city of Bern.
BLS refers to these trains as ‘MUTZ’, short for Moderner, Universeller TriebZug.
Two in stead of five long-distance lines
Over the past years, BLS developed a plan to improved long-distance service quality, anticipating on becoming the responsible operator for five lines in Switzerland. But the authorities (BAV) decided otherwise, only two lines were assigned to the operator. BLS accepts the outcome, but states that it not possible to implement all desired improvements in a concession with only two lines. That would be too expensive.
BLS also emphasises that the tender process for long-distance concessions in Switzerland needs to be improved, making it more transparant and offering a level-playing field to all competing operators.